President Steven Zhang's words at the Shareholders' Meeting

PRESIDENT STEVEN ZHANG'S WORDS AT THE SHAREHOLDERS' MEETING

The speech from the Nerazzurri president at the shareholders' meeting held this morning

Hello All Nerazzurri.

I would like to thank you all for being here at our annual shareholders’ meeting to look back at the 2019/20 season.

For us, this meeting is not just about the formalities of approving the club’s financial statements – it’s also an opportunity to come together and recognize the work that all of us have done for this colours, as well as reliving a year of emotion, love and passion for our beloved Inter.

Today’s meeting is of course being run virtually and takes place amid a pandemic that has profoundly impacted our lives and behaviours. It has had a serious effect on the global economy and – as a consequence – on the sport and football industries.

At this time, my thoughts and the thoughts of the club are with all those who have been affected by COVID-19. We want to say a huge thank you to all the medical and healthcare workers striving every day to combat the virus.

Within this challenging context, the world of football – with all its media influence – has an important dual responsibility to society as a whole:

- On one side, football must celebrate true sporting values, a determination to never give up, give us the strength we need to come through difficult times.
- On the other side, we must convey a sense of hope and positive energy and offer a form of entertainment that brings joy into people’s lives.

As a club that has built its foundations on these values, Inter is determined to lead by example.

First of all, I would like to thank all the men and women at Inter who – throughout this difficult time – have continued to show courage and dedication, offering their constant support.

Employees, footballers, the coaching and medical teams, the youth sector, the women’s football area, all of the management team and the shareholders each one of us, regardless of our position, has a key role to play in ensuring that this club continues to grow and develop.

To our extraordinary fans: we sorely miss your support in the stands, but we feel your encouragement and your deep passion and love for Inter more every day. You continue to provide us with the strength we need to achieve our objectives.

Thanks also to the broadcasters, sponsors and partners who continue to show their collaborative spirit in this uncertain period.

Inter has taken every opportunity – privately, publicly and at the institutional level – to reiterate its firm stance that the only thing that matters in this crisis is public health and the health of all individuals.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the national and international governmental and sporting institutions. The football community has worked together and shown real unity throughout this unprecedented time for the good of the beautiful game and its millions of fans around the world.

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has seriously affected the football industry, accelerating the effects of some issues inside it.

The business model of football has remained unchanged for years, and is hindered by a clear asymmetry that is damaging economic sustainability.

Football clubs are bearing entrepreneurial risks and extremely high running costs, having no control over revenues in return, which are managed by third parties and governed by strict regulations.

The scenario is further exacerbated by the difficulties facing sponsor companies who invest in football, not to mention lost stadium revenues. Football governance on all levels is currently working to address issues that are of vital importance if we want to guarantee a sustainable future for the industry:

1. the modernisation of the system with more power for clubs,
2. the evolution of international competitions In Italy,

the move to allow private equity funds to invest in Serie A – one that will help to boost the international appeal of the Serie A brand and allow for enhanced product management – is a key step towards the future.

Yet the primary focus of our efforts must be on building a closer relationship between football and new generations of fans. Football sorely needs innovation and internationalisation and it’s vital that we recognise the need for new generations of fans to come through and ensure that the football product is offered to them in a form that suits them. We are competing for the attention of young people with video games, social media and streaming platforms – and it is less and less likely that the youth of today is going to choose to set aside a full 90 minutes to watch a game of football.

This is where the biggest growth opportunities lie.

We must diversify and innovate the football product, targeting younger audiences and international markets and creating new competition formats. We must make full use of the possibilities offered by new tech and different platforms.

Football clubs are increasingly becoming international brands who develop collaborations with brands in the fashion and lifestyle sectors. Infrastructure, including cutting-edge stadiums owned by the clubs themselves, also plays a crucial role in this. The objective is to enable our product to compete with the big global players in the entertainment industry. In the coming year, you will see some of these relevant ground-breaking projects coming out from Inter.

Thanks to the commitment and support of the Suning Group, the economic value and solidity of the club is continuing to grow even in this complex and uncertain time.

Last season, the Corporate Area – led by our CEO Alessandro Antonello – recorded significant results despite the devastating impact of the global pandemic, which had a serious effect on the second half of the year.

Our revenues are still stable compared with the previous year. This result is a proof of the efficacy of the club’s global vision and strategy.

The results also show the continuation of the extraordinary progress made since Suning took over, with Inter’s revenues more than double as a result of the successful business approach adopted.

Our brand – which has increased in value by over 235% in the last five years and is currently valued at €466 million – continues to grow in relevance around the world.

Our global fanbase keeps growing constantly, year over year. We are currently the ninth-biggest club in the world.

The growth is even more significant on our digital channels. The creation of innovative, geo-localised digital content has enabled us to reach 39 million followers, an increase of 16.2 million – or 72% – on the previous season. In the five-year period between 2016 and 2020, Inter has recorded the biggest growth in social media followers of any club in the world.

Our growth between 2016 and 2020 is illustrated in KPMG’s renowned Football Clubs Valuation Report 2020, which states that FC Internazionale’s Enterprise Value is the 14th-highest in Europe, while we are the third-ranked club in terms of growth between 2016 and 2020.

The value of our brand enables us to rise to new market challenges with confidence in our appeal and in the attractiveness of our brand.

The club’s consolidation efforts also include the renovation of its infrastructure.

Following the 2019 inauguration of the new club headquarters, 1908 Inter HQ, last season we began renovation work on the Suning Training Centre. The project will enable us to provide the Sports Area with a modern training centre in line with those of the world’s top clubs. Further investment is planned for the Suning Youth Centre, where a new residence and offices will join the college, which is already open.

Finally, as you know, we are working with AC Milan to build a new stadium for Milan, along with a multifunctional complex occupying the San Siro area.

The Sports Area, led by CEO Giuseppe Marotta, achieved very positive results last season.

At the beginning of last season, we set ourselves the ambitious objective of beginning to lay strong foundations upon which to build a new era and gradually bring success back to Inter.

Our aim for last season was to begin building a winning mentality, a sense of belonging and a spirit of sacrifice, as well as trying to reduce the gap with our competitors.

In Antonio, we identified all the professional and human qualities required to fulfil this mission. Antonio took charge of Inter’ squad and instantly became a true leader.

The players showed maximum dedication and the spirit of sacrifice that was asked of them.

The league had to be put on hold for three months, in dramatic circumstances. Lockdown was an immensely difficult time for all clubs, especially for the ones in the midst of a process of growth.

However, the changes demanded by the coach led to clear results.

We finished second in the league, a result that meant we qualified for the Champions League for the third year in a row.

And at the end of a gruelling yet exciting campaign, we competed in a European final for the first time in ten years.

We know this is the level that Inter must compete at. And we also know this result is not to be taken for granted.

We fight for this every year for the past 4 years since Suning take over.

On-field success is the objective that Inter must always strive for – for itself as a club and for its extraordinary fans.

We are confident that the season just gone has laid the foundations for us to build the success of the club and ensure a great future for us and for the entire Inter family.

Our aims for this season are the same: to continue to grow and establish ourselves as we continue down this path.

As long as we see positive growth we would know we are on the right path. There is no doubt that the pandemic will continue to have an impact for the rest of this year and probably the next cycle. But the club is preparing for the long term.

Our priority remains to ensure the sustainability and stability of our sporting and business performance.

We have shown that we are able to overcome obstacles along our path and we will continue to do so in the future, with a constructive perspective and with the belief that we are on the right path to achieve our goals.

Our Inter is international, brave, immersive, innovative and performant.

Win, inspire and entertain the hearts of millions – that’s our mission, today and forever.

Stay safe

Forza Inter, sempre!


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